NASCAR Xfinity Series, Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Preview

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash program hits full stride this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 14th at 12 pm ET.  FOX Sports 1 has pre-race coverage along with radio coverage on PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Distance: 159.9 miles (300 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 85),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 170), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 300)


What to Watch For:  Cole Custer, Daniel Hemric, Ryan Preece and Christopher Bell are eligible for the Dash 4 Cash this weekend at Bristol. The highest finishing of the four drivers will win a $100,000 from Comcast.

Veteran Elliott Sadler leads the championship for the fourth consecutive week. He has an 11-point edge over JR Motorsports rookie teammate Tyler Reddick. Sadler is on a run of six straight single-digit race finishes in 2018. He scored his first career Cup Series win at Bristol (2001) and owns a pair of Xfinity Series trophies as well (1998 and 2012) and his 214 laps led is best among Saturday’s field.

JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier scored his first Xfinity Series win at Bristol in 2010. He is fifth in the championship, five points behind teammate Sadler.

It’s been six years since Ryan Truex’s last Bristol Xfinity Series start. He finished seventh in 2012.

Former series champion Joe Nemechek will drive for JD Motorsports at Bristol.

Xfinity Dash 4 Cash: Bell, Hemric, Custer, and Preece

to Vie for the $100,000 Bonus in Thunder Valley

Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell and Ryan Preece will compete to take home the giant check.

The highest finisher between Bell, Hemric, Custer, and Preece will win the $100,000 prize, and that winner and the three highest finishing full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers, for a total of four contenders, will qualify for the next week’s event.

In addition to the $100,000 awarded to each Dash 4 Cash winner, Comcast will also donate a total of $40,000 to local organizations within race markets on behalf of the Internet Essentials program.

Comcast’s Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest program for getting low-income households online, having connected 4 million low-income Americans since 2011.

The Dash 4 Cash races are being held at Bristol Motor Speedway (April 14), Richmond Raceway (April 21), Talladega Superspeedway (April 28) and Dover International Speedway (May 5). This is the first year Talladega has participated in the Dash 4 Cash program.

Of the four drivers qualified for the Bristol Dash 4 Cash bonus, Hemric is the only one who is a previous Dash 4 Cash winner, taking home the big check from Bristol last season with a fifth-place finish. He also has the best average finish amongst the four drivers at Bristol with a 6.0; followed by Brandon Jones’ 14.6 and Ryan Preece’s 17.0. Bell has yet to compete at Bristol in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and will be making his series track debut this weekend. 

The Unstoppable Team Penske No. 22 Looks for Record Fourth Straight Win

Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford Mustang team led by crew chief Brian Wilson has been unstoppable over the last three races, bringing home victories from ISM Raceway in Phoenix, California’s Auto Club Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. Now the No. 22 team has the opportunity to tie the series record for most consecutive wins by a single team in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with a win this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The record for most consecutive series wins by a single car/team is four and it has happened twice – Sam Ard Racing’s No. 0 Oldsmobile team was the first to accomplish the feat with driver Sam Ard winning four straight in 1983 at South Boston (9/17), Martinsville (9/24), Rougemont (10/1) and Charlotte (10/8). The second team to accomplish the record was Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota team in 2008 when Kyle Busch won at Mexico City (4/20), Tony Stewart won at Talladega (4/26), Denny Hamlin won at Richmond (5/2) and then Stewart again at Darlington (5/9).

This season, Team Penske’s No. 22 team has won the three straight races with three different drivers – Brad Keselowski (Phoenix), Joey Logano (California) and Ryan Blaney (Texas). Austin Cindric has been tapped this weekend to pilot the No. 22 Ford Mustang at Bristol, and if he wins the No. 22 team will become the first to accomplish feat with four different drivers.

Cindric will be making his Xfinity Series track debut this weekend at Bristol. Though he has made two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Bristol posting a best finish of ninth last season.

Different Winners Each Week So Far this Season

Through the first six races of the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series season there have been six different winners, which has everyone wondering if Bristol Motor Speedway can keep the streak alive and give the series its seventh different winner in as many races.

Since the series inception in 1982, the NASCAR Xfinity Series has had six different winners in the first six races 12-times; including 2018.

This season’s winners include Tyler Reddick (Daytona), Kevin Harvick (Atlanta), Kyle Larson (Las Vegas), Brad Keselowski (Phoenix), Joey Logano (California) and Ryan Blaney (Texas). Reddick is the only driver with a win this season entered this weekend at Bristol.

The record for the highest number of different winners to start a NASCAR Xfinity Series season is 13 different winners back in 1988; followed by 1987 with ten different winners, 1998 and 2006 with eight, and then 1989 and 2004 with seven.

The 1988 and 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series seasons are tied for the series-most different winners for the entire season with 18 each. 

Mr. Consistency: Elliott Sadler Continues Steady March to the Postseason

No other driver has been more consistent in 2018 than the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings leader Elliott Sadler, who posted his series-best sixth top-ten finish last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Obviously, the series standings leader has been consistent, but how consistent?

Ponder this: Elliott Sadler leads the series in championship points (228), top-fives (four), top-tens (six) and average finish (5.3) through six races. But his consistency near the top-of-the leaderboard doesn’t end there, he also leads the series in season-to-date average running position (8.6) and percentage of laps run on the lead lap (95.4%).

He is also ranked second in season-to-date Driver Rating (102.3) and percentage of laps completed in the top-15 (88.9%).

Heading to Bristol this weekend with an 11-point lead over his JR Motorsports teammate Tyler Reddick in second, Sadler looks to continue his early season success. The Emporia, Virginia, native has made 22 series starts at Bristol, posting two wins (1998, 2012), eight top-fives, 11 top-tens and an average finish of 14.8. He hasn’t finished worse than fourth in his last three starts at Thunder Valley.

Lately, Bristol Motor Speedway is Joe Gibbs Racing’s House

Joe Gibbs Racing has dominated Bristol Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series over the last eight years, winning five of the last eight series races at the world’s fastest half-mile – that’s a winning percentage of 62.5%.

Last season Joe Gibbs Racing swept both Xfinity Series Bristol races with Erik Jones taking the checkered in the spring and Kyle Busch hoisting the trophy in the fall.

This weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing brings three rising stars looking for their first wins of the season – Ryan Preece in the No. 18, Brandon Jones in the No. 19 and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Christopher Bell in the No. 20.

Preece has been taking advantage of his part-time schedule this season, posting one top-five and two top-tens in two starts. Preece will have some extra motivation this weekend as he is one of the four drivers to qualify for the Dash 4 Cash at Bristol, a track he has made two starts at, posting an average finish of 17.0.

Preece’s teammate Christopher Bell is also a Dash 4 Cash qualifier at Bristol, following a runner-up finish at Texas last weekend. Bell moved into third in the championship standings after posting four top-fives and an average finish of 11.8 in the first six races of the season. This weekend, Bell will be making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Bristol Motor Speedway, but he is no stranger to Thunder Valley. He made two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts there, finishing seventh in both (2016, 2017).

Last, but not least, in the JGR stable is Brandon Jones, who posted his first DNF of the season last weekend at Texas, and now the youngster is looking to rebound at Bristol, the first short-track of the season. Jones is currently tenth in the championship standings after posting two top-tens this season. He has made five series starts at Bristol posting an average finish of 14.6.   

No Sophomore Slump for GMS Racing’s Spencer Gallagher

GMS Racing’s Spencer Gallagher has vastly improved this season over his rookie campaign last year.

If you look back to the first six races of 2017, Gallagher was 17th in the championship points after posting an average finish of 23.0; including a best finish of 14th at Texas.

This season through six races, the Las Vegas native is eighth points (nine positions better than last year) having posted three top-tens and an average finish of 10.8 (almost 13-positions better than last season).

Gallagher made his series debut at Bristol last season, posting an average finish of 20.5, but this season is a different story. The 28-year old is now paired with crew chief Chad Norris, who led Brennan Poole to a pair of top-tens at Bristol last season.

Ryan Truex has Kaulig Racing in the Playoff Hunt Early

When Kaulig Racing added Ryan Truex to the team during the offseason, hopes were high that success would come quickly, and it has.

Through the first six races of the season, Truex has not only gelled with his new crew chief Chris Rice, but the twosome has rallied off two top-tens and an average finish of 11.8. Now the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro team is ranked seventh in the driver championship standings and is in the hunt to make the Playoffs; a mere 49 points back from the standings lead.

Truex rolls into Bristol this weekend looking forward to making his first start at the world’s fastest half-mile since 2012 when he posted his best finish (tenth) of his two-previous series starts at BMS.   

New Faces in the Garage: Lee, Mrakovich Making Series Debuts at Bristol

It’s always great to see fresh talent making their way up the ranks, and two new faces in the garage worth noting this weekend are Shane Lee and Tony Mrakovich.

Newton, North Carolina, native Shane Lee, will be making his NASAR Xfinity Series debut driving for Richard Childress Racing this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. The 24-year-old driver completed in his first season of full-time competition in the ARCA Racing Series in 2017 and placed third in the driver championship point standings. He also has three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) starts under his belt. Lee will be piloting the No. 3 RCR Chevrolet Camaro this weekend at Bristol with crew chief Nick Harrison.

Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, native Tony Mrakovich, will also be making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. The 19-year-old Mrakovich has made four ARCA Racing Series starts driving for Ken Schrader and Andy Hillenburg, all while finishing his senior year at both Lancaster Catholic High and Lancaster County Technical Institute.

Mrakovich logged two top-ten finishes in his first three starts and was one untimely caution away from going three-for-three. Mrakovich will be making his Xfinity debut with JGL Racing in the No. 28 Ford Mustang with crew chief Steve Lane.

A total of 41 drivers have made their NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Bristol Motor Speedway since 1982. No driver making their series debut at Bristol Motor Speedway has won, but the highest finishing driver making his series debut at BMS was David Pearson in 1982; he started on the pole and finished runner-up.

Also Noteworthy…

Sunoco Rookie Of The Year Update: Tyler Reddick leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by nine points over second place Christopher Bell and 87 points over third place Kaz Grala. Though the 2018 rookie class is made up of 10 drivers, through six races it looks to be a two-man battle with Reddick holding on to a points lead that Bell continues to eat into. Here are the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings following Texas: Reddick (217), Bell (208), Grala (130), Austin Cindric (99), Alex Labbe (90), Vinnie Miller (51), Spencer Boyd (47), Josh Bilicki (32), Chad Finchum (21) and Matt Mills (13).

Nemechek Family Affair: Joe Nemechek and his son John Hunter Nemechek will be competing against each other this weekend in the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. Though the duo has competed many times in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but it will be the first time they have battled it out in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. It will be Joe Nemechek’s 431st series start and John Hunter’s third. Joe will be driving the No. 15 JD Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro and John Hunter will be in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro. 

Feels Like The First Time: A total of six drivers have recorded their first NASCAR Xfinity Series win at Bristol Motor Speedway – Phil Parson (1982), Rick Wilson (1989), Bobby Labonte (1991), Jeff Fuller (1996), Martin Truex Jr. (2004), Justin Allgaier (2010). Wilson and Fuller won their first series race at Bristol from the pole.